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Posture in sitting/standing ideas, tips & tricks

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M. Dahlen wrote:
'The person who started this thread said it should be about "any of the problems we might have that are assocated with poor posture."  Wow.  Seems to me the list is endless.  I suspect osteoporosis, ADD, carpal tunnel, maybe even planters warts'

 ... that'd be 'plantar warts' - on the soles of the feet, I think.  ;)

' and the general fatigue syndrome relate to posture.'

 ... do you mean 'Chronic Fatigue Syndrome' (CFS)?  I've had it for six years now (which is why it's taken me so long to catch up with your post), so I can tell you confidently that while poor posture does not cause CFS, good posture can help noticeably in relieving the symptoms, in particular both the fatigue and the frequently associated Fibromyalgia (FM) - unpredictable, severe pain in muscles and connective tissues (eg ligaments & tendons), occurring anywhere throughout the body.

'If you stand such that your spinal vertebrae stack in alignment then gravity holds you up  (making every movement a weight-bearing exercise), releasing the muscles (saving energy), increasing circulation, and just making a person more comfortable.'

Spot on!  :D

'The scary thing is that nobody is writing about this in any of the so-called "health" magazines, and nobody is doing research.'

I've seen some cautious posture advice on the "Men's Health" website, and also in their printed magazine; but nothing to make readers really sit up (!) and take notice as they need to.  Of course, most of their readers are (at least in their wishes) more dedicated to getting and keeping fit than the average person who uses the PC for more than an hour a day.  If they do go to the gym, one can hope they at least get basic instruction from the trainers in proper (weight-lifting and weight machine) techniques, and that will help with their posture.  On the flipside, it only takes five minutes of slouching to do a lot of bad, which undermines any good done elsewhere.

'I suspect that's because there's no money in fixing posture:  no drugs, no gadgets to sell.  But it doesn't even take much work:  in my experience, after doing Esther Gokhale's course and reading her book, I would do the exercises just a little and get big benefits.  It's like my body was just waiting to "do the right thing".  Comments?

No, it doesn't, does it?  :)  I've not seen Gokhale's materials, but I have benefitted greatly from a book I picked up about three years back (on the discount table!) at Dymock's Bookstore - "The Vance Stance",  by Vance Bonner (Workman Publishing, NY, 1993) ISBN 156305-311-X.  It's illustrated profusely and well, and the explanations on why you should take the trouble to learn to stand correctly are simple, clear and sensible.  From the minute I started to learn her techniques, I have gained considerable relief.  Those techniques have also helped reduce the pain I have from an old sporting injury, which effectively destroyed the cartilage on the inside of my left knee.  If I have to stand for more than 30 seconds, I take care to "assume the position"!

From the jacket blurb: "Teaching Balanced Alignment, a way of positioning yourself in space that enables you to move with more grace and power, Vance Bonner shows you how to work with gravity instead of against it to reshape your body and reverse the constricting postural habits of a lifetime.  The Vance Stance and its program of Thirty-Four Movements will eliminate, step by step, (*) the causes of chronic joint and muscle pain while greatly increasing your body's flexibility.  With knees unlocked, ankles unfrozen and spine fully lengthened, you will experience a dramatic new sense of limberness, energy and overall well-being."

With one small change, I fully endorse those statements.  That change would be to insert the phrase "some of" before the words "the causes" at the point I marked (*) above.  As I've said, I don't believe the Vance Stance, or Balanced Alignment, or any similar techniques, including Alexander Technique, can eliminate the causes of the FM pain experienced by many CFS sufferers.  To the best of my knowledge, those causes lie in dysfunctions of the hindbrain.  Yet I have found her work extremely useful in reducing the severity of those FM pains.

I can't comment on "rolfing".  I thought it had to do with walking around in a trench coat on three legs, wobbling a board of masonite and singing "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport" ...  ;) but apparently it has nothing to do with Rolf Harris.  Considering the comments about rolfing made earlier in this thread, perhaps I should investigate further.

The other thing I've found helps with the knee cartilage problem is to take glucosamine and chondroitin twice daily.  It seems to help actually rebuild the cartilage a little, which is all it takes to stop the 'bone on bone' grinding I otherwise have, and thus most of the pain there.

Well, this reply has taken me two sessions to put together, one at 3pm yesterday, and the other just now, at 1am.  That's what CFS will do for you ...  :'( ... so I could really do with any good ideas!  :tellme:


Hi Yahya,
thanks for your post!
I'm afraid I dont have any definite ideas for you - I would be curious how the Gokhale ideas compares to the Vance ones.
Below some more comments re the Gokhale way of things

If you stand such that your spinal vertebrae stack in alignment then gravity holds you up  (making every movement a weight-bearing exercise), releasing the muscles (saving energy), increasing circulation, and just making a person more comfortable.
-M. Dahlen (October 20, 2008, 02:37 PM)
--- End quote ---
Remember in all stomach exercises to keep your hips firmly on the ground and your knees bent at a 45-degree angle, otherwise the downward pull on the spine can damage discs.
-digitalzen (September 12, 2008, 08:12 PM)
--- End quote ---

a point here - Gokhale's method involves aligning the vertebrae and head correctly so that you are balanced. But it also involves using muscles that run across the top of the abdomen, just below the rib cage - they actually go around to your back. (sorry dont know the name of them - see video link above, they're mentioned there, obviously in her book too).
When these muscles are used it contains the torso, almost like a corset (I think she calls it them the "inner corset").

This has the effect of lengthening the spine, thus protecting the vertebrae and whatever's in between them (I'm very scientific..but you get my meaning!). When you breath in, the back gets stretched upwards even more as the torso is "contained".
These muscles would traditionally (in most less "developed" cultures, and in some western ones too) more or less constantly be in use, protecting as long as you are walking, standing, sitting up straight, lifting. [edit/ - jogging as well - basically all the time except when resting]

That and the angle of the hip are crucial to her "method".

Another thing she says is the back is traditionally kept straight at almost all times. When bending you can bend at the knees but more often people would "hinge" at the hip, keeping the back straight. Dont try this unless you've learned how to use the "inner corset" muscles mentioned above. Even then, it takes time to learn and to strengthen the back muscles.

The back muscles (along the spine I presume) actually contract when the back is kept straight. I'm already finding that this makes it uncomfortable to slump (after a month or two of practicing this method) which makes it so much easier to learn the new posture!

This would make me wary of doing any exercises that involve stretching the back muscles but I've always been a lazy beggar exercise-wise so no problem here ;)

I'm trying this (the "hinging") a bit - I like cooking, your average kitchen seems to be designed for someone about 6 inches smaller than me so find myself stooping a lot - good opportunity; also brushing teeth is another - it really stretches those hamstrings if you can bend over while keeping your legs straight - not necessary - but the knees can need a break too!

Great thread, thanks for starting it, Tom  :Thmbsup: Also, thanks to Yahya  for bumping it - I completely missed it when it was more active last month and wouldn't have thought to go looking for it, either  :)

My posture sucks and this is the kind of common sense information I need. As soon as this is posted, I'm replacing my fancy leather office chair (with armrests) with a spare dining room chair and then I'm off to track down one or the other of the books that have been mooted in this thread!

Here's a recent Lifehacker post Top 10 Ergonomic Upgrades for Your Workspace
they have this video embedded
Video podcast - exercises for tendonitis and carpal tunnel which they better describe as ["b]Use exercises to ward off RSI[/b]" - they're very good exercises if you spend a lot of time at the keyboard and/or using the mouse -
it feels really good to sttretch those tendons ;)

(I'm still a huge fan of the Gokhale 'method' btw - things just get better & better learning posture via her method - this from someone who usually gives up 'that kind of thing' after a week or two)

Combine these two links, then look up stuff on Tai Chi...

Everything you learned about muscles is wrong

Anatomy Trains

You're going to have to click around the Anatomy Trains website.  Basically this is another model of the human body.  I've found it makes better posture easier.



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